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Visit to Liberia to meet the UN Secretary General’s “High-Level Panel” on Post-2015 Global Development Goals

On 30 January in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, I joined senior parliamentary colleagues from Liberia, Bangladesh and Uganda in a roundtable discussion to convey to the post-2015 High Level Panel the IPU’s perspectives on the importance of democratic governance, particularly the role to be played by parliaments, in determining any future international development goals.

The roundtable was chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga of Uganda and panel member, John Podesta of the USA, summed up for the High Level Panel.

A full summary of the discussions by the IPU is available here.

Each of the Parliamentarians made a five minute presentation. We stressed the need for the post-2015 goals to make specific reference to democracy – to ensure transparent and accountable government – and also the need for the UN Panel and national governments to consult Parliaments and civil society organisations. Some Parliamentarians from developing countries said that many Parliaments need more resources and capacity building to enable them to hold their respective governments to account.

I made similar points in my own contribution, and subsequent responses to questions. I emphasised that the development culture has changed: ten years ago, for instance, the World Bank agreed its country Poverty Reduction Strategies with the country’s Government alone. Now they advise Governments to seek input, and ideally approval, for such documents, from Parliaments.

Recalling Tony Blair’s Africa Commission, I stressed that publishing a good report (as the Africa Commission did) is relatively easy compared to the task of winning support, and commitments to implement the report’s findings, from national Heads of State and Government.

I circulated a note about the House of Commons International Development Committee’s report on post-2015 development goals and urged the High Level Panel to keep its Secretariat in place after their report is published to co-ordinate the intensive lobbying which will be essential to win international support for their proposals.

The Co-Chair of our meeting, High Level Panel member John Podesta, summed up the meeting as follows:

• Democracy is both a necessary end in itself, and a valuable means to the end of achieving development goals;
• Involving Parliaments and seeking their approval adds legitimacy to development agendas;
• More support is needed to help Parliaments to strengthen their capacity to secure more accountable and transparent government.

After the formal session, I had one to one meetings with John Podesta and Amina Mohammed at which I re-emphasised the need to build a campaign to win international support for the Panel’s agenda.

The International Development Committee’s report is available to download here

Hugh Bayley MP